Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons on 17th January 2023.
What assessment he has made of the adequacy of the number of onshore wind farms developed in England since 2015.
Onshore wind in the UK has been a great success. It generates 25% of our total renewables, and since 2015 around 10 onshore wind projects, totalling 30 MW, have been given consent in England. We have made it clear that onshore wind is an important part of the energy mix and that we will now need more, which is why we are consulting on making changes to the national planning policy framework in England so that local authorities can better respond to the views of their local communities when they wish to host onshore wind infrastructure.
New onshore wind has been stymied since 2015, even though it is our cheapest renewable. Shire-counties conservatism has been put ahead of our national interest; weak policy has undermined the UK’s energy security, leaving us wide open to international shocks. Does the Minister not accept that all this has helped to cause family bills to skyrocket?
In a word, no. What has caused family bills to skyrocket is the international pressure on energy supply chains, the war in Ukraine and the economic sanctions in respect of Russia. I accept the point that the costs of onshore wind have fallen dramatically through our contracts for difference round 4. This is a UK success story, which is why we are keen to do more. The public-opinion data show that 78% of the public support onshore wind. We want to make sure that we do not impose it on local authorities and are giving them more freedom to make sure they can reflect local demand so that it is renewable energy led by communities with community benefit.
Looking out from the east of my constituency, one can see a number of offshore wind farms, which are more efficient and cheaper. The Government have done really well over the past 10 years by increasing the renewable generation of electricity fivefold; does the Minister agree that that not only helps to cut emissions but pump-primes new jobs markets in the generation of clean energy around the world?
As a BEIS Minister and as an East Anglian Member of Parliament, I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. The southern North sea is becoming the Saudi Arabia of wind energy, and the Norfolk and Suffolk coast and the new hydrogen freeport at Felixstowe and Harwich are part of the way in which we are growing the infrastructure for smart advanced wind and a linked hydrogen economy in the 21st century.